[TB/X one shot] Hero
Fandom: Tokyo Babylon/X
Characters/Pairings: Karen, OC
Length: 1448 words
Summary: A young boy grows up, and his world shift as he learns more about the secrets his mother hides.
Notes: Made for the Destiny's Children challenge at togakushishrine.
When Masuyo had been eight, a boy at school had called his mother a whore for the first time. He got mad and hit him until the boy removed his words.
He got himself into several fights after that, and learned how to use his fists effectively. Thought his mother often worried about how he got all his scraps and bruises, he always refused to tell her. Okaa-san was strong and capable, but she had enough to worry about already. And they had had to move so many times until they had found this home to stay, he knew she was expecting for them to be able to remain in the small, tranquil town without troubles anymore. The least he wanted to do was to spoil her hope of happiness.
After a while anyway, when he got tough enough, they learned and the insults stopped.
When Masuyo was eleven, he asked her about his father.
And this time, for some reason, she didn't evade his question by saying that they were happy enough just the two of use, and that he was all the man she needed in her life.
This time, she talked to him about a man with a sweet smile, and the gentlest heart. A man who didn't realize how much he gave with his casual warmth and his honest words. The rarest and most precious kind of gift it was, this simple respect from one human being to another.
When he had asked then, why wasn't this man with them now, she had smiled sadly and answered :
"You cannot catch the wind."
Masuyo was fifteen when he discovered that, indeed, the candidly cruel accusations of his childhood were true. Surprising the discussion between two teachers, he had stood frozen behind the partly opened door, while they uttered their condescending comments. Hushed speech with heavy undertone mentioning Kasumi-san's former profession, and how kind it was of the Principal to have accepted her son in, even though he seemed a good enough kid.
He had fled their venomous laughter, running away from the school, a panic-ridden flight for denial. He had gone home and, confronted with his mother's usual tender welcome, had thrown at her the accusations, begging her to refute them. When she hadn't, her voice wavering with reasonable pleas for calm, and if he would just listen to her, he had screamed at her words that no child should ever tell his parent, all the insults learned from fisticuffs and brawls. And she had yelled back at him. He hadn't paid attention to her hurt expression, to the shudder of her shoulder, to the fluid shadow in her eyes. He had only listened to the explosive fire that had seemed to burn his heart asunder as he accused her.
His mother, his hero, the woman who he had looked up whenever he needed advice, jokingly calling her the most sensible and wise mother in the world, that woman had betrayed him.
With his throat too raw and his mind too blank to think of anymore to say. With her shocked rebuke that no son had any right to say those things as long as he lived under her roof. And with a "very well. I'm out of here!"; he had gone out in the cold, walking in the streets past midnight still reeling from the earthquake that had destroyed all the monuments in his mind.
He had walked the city for long, until light started to whitewash the sky into negative colors, and had felt no smarter for it. He was still alone, young and lost. The righteous anger that had burned like a beacon earlier was turned to cold ash that gave away little warmth to lead him.
That's when he had seen his mother. She was haggard-looking, and her always impeccable clothes were sullen, one of he shoe-horn torn off so she was limping as she called out his name.
When she saw him, her eyes lit up with relief.
"There you are Masuyo. God I was so worried!"
Under dawn's truthful light, he saw for the first time the grey threads amid the flaming red curls, and the dark marks of worries under her eyes.
She was beautiful.
He hugged her tightly, feeling her surprise against him. Having no words to say how sorry he whispered to her ear "Let's go home, mum."
They never talked about it again.
But he never asked anymore questions about his father either.
When Masuyo was eighteen and he was accepted in a good university in Tokyo, the proud glow in his mother's eyes was the least thing he paid attention to. There was a new city for him to conquer, the girlfriend who was going to Tokyo too, and all the plans and exciting adventures he could see gleaming at the horizon.
Two months later when a girl a few years older than him knocked at his dorm room's door and asked him if he was Kasumi Masuyo-san, he really wasn't expecting her to say : "Oh, I think you're my brother then."
Later on, after Aoki Yuka-san had explained to him about looking through her father's papers, finding references about several Millenarist sects, a soap land's card with an unusual name written on it and legal papers from a hospital mentioning a baby; he had tried to reconcile this in his head with the image he had of his mother.
It didn't make any sense.
Who had been this fiery tempered woman who had taken part in the power struggle between fanatic religious cults, fighting next to young teenagers, and who had loved a married man who worked as an editor, as well as a windmaster? Details didn't add up.
He had smiled awkwardly at Yuka-san, seeing in her eyes the same puzzlement as his, and she had been searching for clues about it for months already.
He knew that even if this Aoki-san who was probably his father had been alive, he didn't want to meet him. Didn't want to know the man who had let his mother go away with a child, not matter if he had a wife and daughter already.
He didn't know if he could stand to see his world turn up side down one more time. He knew he loved his mother, he knew she was the person who defined uprightness to him. Did he need to know anymore ? Did he need to know all those heavy secrets laying in the shadows of the year 1999 ?
He gave Yuka-san his mother's phone number anyway, and told her to keep in touch.
Over the years they saw each others there and now, taking a cup of coffee together, to chat about their lives and also about the growing notes she was taking for a book she would write about the year the world almost ended. Things he never dared discuss with his mother. But it was nice to have a sister, he found out, someone you could tease and be teased by without any hard feelings remaining. Even if they never met as family, as such.
Masuyo had been twenty-seven when Yuka's book was finally published. He had, of course, read it several times before that. Helping out Yuka organizing it and giving his advice about the editing. He had also been the one who had convinced her to actually seek a publisher to print it.
It seemed so unfair that the fate of the world had rested on the shoulders of a score of people - half of them children yet - and no one even knew about it. Even if the book could only exist as a fiction, he wanted people to meet the Dragons who had defended them, to feel for them, and regard them as the heroes they were.
For himself, the book represented something different. Not only a tribute for his mother, but also a lesson for himself.